I Hope, If Nothing More

Occasionally, I think about how unlikely my life has been; about the fact that my job — writing about pop culture, but especially nerd culture, for the internet — didn’t really exist even when I moved to the United States two decades ago — and about the fact that I did move to the United States two decades ago. For that matter, thinking about the fact that, somehow, I ended up working, if not in then at least tangentally connected to the industry that I always wanted to as a kid. How did all of that happen?

When I ask that question, I tend to answer it by thinking that it all started when I went to art school, lo those many decades ago. I’ve said multiple times that the most valuable thing about that whole experience, all five years of it (there was a Masters degree in there, too; if we’re adding in the time I spent teaching at the school as well, we’re up to seven years), wasn’t the official lessons, such as they were, because those were ultimately meaningless in the grand scheme of things — I studied graphic design just as digital tools were being introduced, so the majority of the practices I was taught were no longer industry standard by the time I graduated.

Instead, what I came away with of value was the fact that I had five years of just… possibility. Of being around people not only being creative in their own practices, but encouraging others to be the same way; of being tasked with doing new things on a regular basis, even if I was neither good at, or fond of, the majority of them; of having a feeling that I could try new things and fail at them, and that was part of the process as opposed to a bad thing. Looking back at it now, I see the whole thing as an extended lesson in the “Yes, And” theory of improvisation; a chance to just be comfortably uncomfortable for an extended period of time.

All of this was brought to mind the other week, reading Peter Capaldi talk about how the opportunity for poor people to have this experience has basically disappeared because of government cuts in the UK, and realizing how lucky I was to be born when I was, how lucky I was to have that chance. My life has been impossibly fortunate, when I stop and think about it. It’s good to appreciate that, every now and then.

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